You plan to take a trip to a country in Africa or South East Asia, you may need to consult your doctor if you should take any medication to prevent malaria.
Is it really necessary to take them? Is there anything else you need to do to protect yourself? Is there an effective treatment for malaria?
Abinash virk, an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic explains that while there is no vaccine against malaria, or malaria, it is essential that before your travel to these areas you take some medication to prevent the disease.
Despite the decline in malaria cases worldwide, the condition continues to be a major, travel-related disease that carries not only serious health risks but also death. Consult with a travel medicine expert well in advance of your trip to discuss the specific malaria medication you need and other health precautions to take.
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. People with malaria usually suffer from a high fever, headache, and severe chills. Symptoms of malaria usually begin a few weeks after the infected mosquito bites. Malaria can be fatal, especially when it is caused by a variety of the parasite known as Plasmodium falciparum, which is common in tropical areas of Africa. The risk of death is higher for those who have never been exposed to the parasite.
Traveling to certain parts of the world carries a higher risk of malaria due to the presence in that place of the most potent type of the disease, added to the higher density of mosquitoes in those areas. People traveling to sub-Saharan African countries are the highest risk, followed by developing countries in Oceania. In the Western Hemisphere, the risk of malaria is highest in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There is also risk in many countries in Southeast Asia, Central and South America.
Medicines to prevent malaria are very effective. However, it is important that you receive the correct medication for the area you are traveling to and that you follow the administration instructions carefully, stresses Abinash Virk of Mayo Clinic.
Different areas of the world have different species of malaria and therefore require different medications for its prevention. Travelers who despite preventive drugs become infected with malaria or die from the disease are those who administered the wrong drug for the region they were traveling to or did so incorrectly.
People planning to travel to countries at risk for malaria should speak with their healthcare providers. Visit the website of the World Health Organization to find information about the disease, or the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to see the best preventive medications for the area where you are going.
In addition to taking the correct medication, take other precautions to reduce your risk during your trip. For example, wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants while you're there and apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
The most effective insect repellants are those containing N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide or DEET, icaridin or eucalyptus extract lemon scent. Apply the repellent to exposed skin in the morning after sunscreen. Reapply at sunset. If the bed does not have a mosquito net, apply the repellent a third time before going to bed. For added protection, also apply permethrin insecticide to clothing.
If you suffer from chemical sensitivity, it is necessary that you consult with your doctor what natural alternatives you can use.
If you notice symptoms of the disease after the trip, go immediately to the doctor and report your recent trip. There is effective treatment for malaria, but health care providers may not know how to diagnose or treat it and mistakenly think that it is a viral disease.
The treatment of malaria requires experience in infectious diseases and, therefore, whenever malaria is suspected, consult with a specialist in that area. Treatment of malaria involves the administration of oral and intravenous medications, depending on the severity of the disease.
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